Is Israel’s High Court Tempting Fate?

Israel’s new government wants to radically reform the judicial system to prevent what they perceive as meddling from the High Court in government affairs. In light of this, was it wise for the High Court to disqualify MK Aryeh Deri from serving in the government?

People who don’t want to make waves expected the Supreme Court to be “smarter” than to rule against the ministerial appointment of Arye Dery, who was convicted of corruption… The High Court’s courageous ruling shook the foundations of the self-confidence hitherto displayed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his gang.

The problem wasn’t the ruling, which was just. Even its most ardent naysayers will struggle to challenge the court’s reasoning. Yet, if you take into consideration all the potential outcomes of Wednesday’s ruling, you can see that Israel is now one step closer to constitutional chaos.

Deri lied, but is it the court’s job to disqualify him over this? It’s not clear. In the lower court, Deri was convicted and was told that it was up to the Central Elections Committee to decide if his convictions carry moral turpitude.

Is a Trillion Dollar Platinum Coin a Dumb Idea?

To evade a looming debt crisis, experts are once again debating the merits of an absurd-sounding but very real proposal: mint a $1 trillion coin.

Look at the history of extraordinary measures that the Treasury secretary has been taking since the 1980s! They’re all accounting gimmicks, every single one of them. People in the corporate-finance world say that [minting the coin] is a joke; this is a gimmick. They’re really saying it’s populist, not technocratic.

Monetary morons have always hidden behind other people’s money to conceal their ultimate goal: inflate away the value of your savings to fund the state’s usurpation of free markets. At least now, the coin crew is finally admitting out loud that every part of its plan requires an assault on legal norms.

In shooting down the trillion-dollar-coin, Yellen sidestepped whether she would be personally opposed to it, simply saying that the Federal Reserve, in all likelihood, wouldn’t accept the coin. The mechanics of this is that the Treasury can, by statute, mint a platinum coin in any denomination, and deposit it at the Fed, using that money to cover payment obligations. If the Fed hesitates or rejects the coin, America is back at square one.

Are California’s Gun Laws Working?

In response to a tragic shooting like the mass shooting at Monterey Park on Lunar New Year, there is a familiar call for gun control measures. Some are asking, however, why California’s already strict gun laws didn’t prevent this terrible event.

In part due to its current laws, California’s gun violence rate is relatively low: data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that just 8.5 per 100,000 people in the state died at the end of a gun in 2020, compared to an average of 13.7 nationally.

Republicans are already making the argument that states like California and Illinois have strict gun-control laws but the violence hasn’t stopped. This argument conveniently ignores the fact that many of the guns used to injure or kill people in places like California and Illinois have been illegally imported from states with looser gun laws.

Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, yet the highest murder rate… in every one of these cases, and I guarantee you’ll see it in this one as well, there were warning signs along the way. We just didn’t respond.

Why Has DeSantis Banned an African American History Class?

A new high school AP level course in African American history has been banned from Florida school’s by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who claims that the course is a trojan horse for radical political indoctrination.

Historically, a key aspect of white supremacy has been the denial of Blacks’ own suffering, their historical experience and their current scholarship. It’s the ultimate expression of contempt for certain Americans as unworthy and peripheral to the story of “real” — read “White” — America. The goal here is unmistakable: eradication of African American historical experience.

Rather than being a neutral, apolitical survey of the subject matter, the APAAS pushes astonishingly one-sided Marxist content that by ordinary definitions is flat-out racist. It also effectively endorses books pushing “the hatred of bourgeois society and the readiness to destroy it” and justifying “passions of violence” among black people while actually criticizing “nonviolent civil rights activists.”

Under the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida has become the right-wing vanguard in the culture wars over identity and speech. Every day, the state is making it clearer how the right’s agenda is not meant to protect “free speech” or critical thought, but instead is designed to systematically suppress them.

Should California Be Wary of Using Up “Fossil Water”?

As California struggles to articulate a plan to manage water resources in an increasingly arid state, some are debating the wisdom of draining ancient aquifers of so-called “fossil water” that has been trapped below ground for thousands of years.

The Fenner aquifer is “an emergency supply,” the University of New Mexico anthropologist David Groenfeldt says. “How can we possibly justify using it now?” [.] the state is running out of water––not just for lawns and crops and households, but to protect homes and lives from the region’s ever-larger wildfires. With their communities facing disaster, many western water managers ask: How can we not?

Current U.S. agricultural subsidies are based on output: the more you produce, the more money you get. This setting makes sense if you want to encourage productivity and water is not an issue. Subsidies based on output, however, are disastrous when farmers are pumping fossil water. We are using tax dollars to pay farmers to deplete a scarce natural resource. What would you think if I told you that we paying people to burn oil in the middle of the desert? That is exactly what is happening with water now.

Just 70 years ago, farmers began drilling into fossil aquifers, pumping water to previously dry climates worldwide. Today, billions of people rely on fossil aquifers for their drinking water and as irrigation to grow staple food crops.

What’s New & Fascinating in Jewish Literature?

Here are three page-turning takes on news from the world of Jewish literature:

As a social media influencer, Mizrahi activist, pro-Israel educator, and member of the LGBTQ community, Hen Mazzig carries around many different identities. Because of that, he is in constant “teacher” mode as he tries to dispel many preconceived ideas about who he is to Jews and non-Jews alike. That cultural kaleidoscope forms the basis of his recent book, “The Wrong Kind of Jew: A Mizrahi Manifesto,” published by Wicked Son Books.

A long overdue new translation of an authoritative German language edition of Franz Kafka’s diaries that appeared in 1990 offers welcome insight into the Bohemian novelist’s evolving concepts of Judaism… his obsessive interest in things Jewish reflects admirably on him. In 1911-1912, Kafka attended almost two dozen performances by Löwy’s traveling Yiddish theater troupe during their guest season in Prague.

Alterman, now a CUNY Distinguished Professor of English at Brooklyn College, explores that gap in his latest book, “We Are Not One: A History of America’s Fight Over Israel.” The book surveys US-Israel relations, but with a focus on the ways defending Israel have shaped public discourse. It’s a book about arguments: within the administrations of 14 presidents, between Washington and Jerusalem, and mostly among Jews themselves.

Today’s Hot Issues

Is Israel’s High Court Tempting Fate? Is a Trillion Dollar Platinum Coin a Dumb Idea? Are California’s Gun Laws Working? Why Has DeSantis Banned an African American History Class? Should California Be Wary of Using Up “Fossil Water”? What’s New & Fascinating in Jewish Literature?